Palladium: Safer Computing or World Domination?
Should Microsoft be responsible for security?
by hurleyp 11:02AM Friday Jun 28 2002 Tipped by Karl Bode
There has been a great deal of buzz in the tech media this week about Palladium, Microsoft's new long term project that yearns to fundamentally change the architecture of the PC with the stated goal of improving security. With partners like AMD and Intel already signed on to the project, Microsoft pundits see this as the final step toward complete domination of the technological landscape by Ballmer and company.
What happens when one of the world's largest software manufacturers releases plans via a glowing mainstream news outlet
article to develop an entirely new architecture designed to improve security? What if that company is Microsoft, consistently known to be one of the least security conscious companies over the last decade?
The idea is this: This new architecture would see a new security chip used for encryption added to PCs (and other devices), along with new APIs (Application-Program Interfaces) designed to let applications to be written to take advantage of Palladium. Palladium may also cover chipsets, graphics processors and USB (Universal Serial Bus) input/output systems, according to Mario Juarez, group product manager for the content security business unit at Microsoft, in this infoworld article
. The Palladium technology would paste a digital certificate on every byte of data and PC on the web, then encrypt the data on the processor level. Some media outlets are assuming
Palladium is the code name for a new Microsoft OS, but it's obviously a much broader initiative.
It's a somewhat scary proposition, even by those who generally don't hate Microsoft. The web has sprung up with no shortage of critics for the new technology, this commentary
by ZDNET standing as a fairly standard reaction to the new plan. Others like Robert Cringely go into a bit more detail
, poking at the shiny exterior to get to the real goal of the technology. Once Cringely gets done being impressed with himself, he makes a frightening point that Microsoft's true goal is to replace TCP/IP with a "more secure" MS designed protocol.
Cringley goes on to suggest that the best way to trick consumers into switching to the new protocol, would be to release a flurry of TCP/IP exploits onto the web, faulting current technology for the security lapse, and shortly thereafter announcing "a better way". Cringely is obviously on one side of the see-saw of opinion, but take a brief tour of the Palladium coverage on the web, and you'll see he's certainly not alone.
The question exists then: Perhaps a new security architecture IS a good idea, but is Microsoft the company that should be developing it? Microsoft's track record of shifty behavior isn't getting any cleaner. The most recent example is a Microsoft triggered raid of a game development house named Mindark. Microsoft urged local Sweden court officials to raid the software developer looking for rogue, unlicensed copies of Microsoft products. At first glimpse this seems like simply protecting your own, until you realize that Mindark is the developer behind a promising Multiple Player on-line gaming venture known as Project Entropia, which may threaten Microsoft's own on-line game Asheron Call.
The raid on Mindark occurred two months ago, but the company released the news yesterday as they announced they were planning to sue the company for damages caused by their action, according to Wired News
. The safer, kinder, and more secure Microsoft pushed by Steve Ballmer a few months ago
has so far yet to materialize.
The problem companies like Microsoft face when they have their hands into so many technological pots, is that it's almost impossible not to be accused of conflict of interest. Palladium however, is quite a bit broader and intrusive than anything attempted before, bringing big name companies on board to create a new elite cyber-club developed technology standard that will fundamentally change computing. Anyone who doesn't agree with the standard could find themselves on the outside looking in. Open source, Linux variants, and Apple could easily be left in the cold (ok, further out in the cold). Take a look at this Register article
that examines fears of how the technology could eradicate GPL.
At the end of the day it will be a tough sell for the boys in Redmond. Trust in Microsoft within the internet community isn't exactly brimming over. The global community isn't thrilled by an American created standard either, as noted by the New York Times
. Palladium will likewise be an increasing target for privacy advocates and critics of the RIAA, as the technology offers extensive digital rights management features. Features that can be sold as spam killers, but also utilized to control and contain digital media.
A tough sell may just be the understatement of the century.
Re: M$ want more M$$
said by Leviathan:Yes to the GUI but a totally different code or "technology". I am a lightweight intermediate in computers but the general lightweight answer to your question is that Windows NT, Windows 2000, and Windows XP have has some type of foundation element in their code known as a kernel which depending upon the type is THE key to stability and indirectly how smart you can make the OS and how much demands you can put on it. Windows 95/98/Me were not on the same kernel or foundation code. So, that is why inherently they always have applications crash, or Windows freezes or the infamous blue screen of death.
Aren't they essentially the same technology with slightly modified GUI's?
With XP I have not had a single lock up, freeze, or blue screen of death since I got it about six months ago. And I use it a lot. I am on the computer at least 8 and not unusual 12 hours a day. Been online continuously since 9 AM so far. Also, if you do have an individual program under XP crash you can just "end task" and it will not effect anything else on your computer. Sometimes you then can just restart the previously "end task" program it will come back up okay. That sure wasn't the way with 95/98/Me. XP is also is a lot more powerful, (with the requisite memory and CPU demands), and smarter. A whole Lot smarter.
I am sure there are about 100,000 other DSLR members who will if they see your post give you a more detailed and precise explanation.
Hope this was some help.
[text was edited by author 2002-06-29 00:27:40]
Re: woah woah woah woah woah Instead of breaking Microsoft up in the method indicated, either just plain disband the company altogether (IT'S STILL A BLINKIN' MONOPOLY!) Or kill off the OS portion. Face it, if the OS were started from the ground up on an altogether different, yet compatible (app. compatible that is) standpoint, the thing would be even better. Make it more like Linux (since that's open source) under the hood. Of course, eliminate Outlook and IE, as well as MP, or better yet, just take the named apps and revert them to the point in time when they were most stable, and above all else, SECURE, then reload only non-security breaking features.
Anyway, thats just my 2 cents worth without forethought.
| |GlobalMindDomino Dude, POWER Systems GuyPremium
Wrong way to go....
Every vendor has a duty to provide high quality, secure applications. While Microsoft's "new" efforts to start incorporating more security into their apps is a good thing, this is not the way to go about it.
No one company should be the ones responsible for developing any new "standards" which so obviously are designed to benefit them and them alone.
What I don't think Microsoft quite understands, is that should Cringley et al's predictions come true, and MS tries to replace TCP with "something else" which is supposed to be more secure, and they end up in an even greater world domination stance, they will most certainly place themselves in further danger of being highly regulated.
Ever see "The Net".....there was one company that everyone trusted as the only way to go for security....and it turned out to be a sham. Now this may be a glorified example, but IMHO it isn't all that unbelievable. I think something like that could, or perhaps in some ways already has - happened.
While they are including several other vendors in this -- the usual suspects like Intel and AMD of course, I certainly see some underlying issues here that start to get a bit too "HAL" like for me.
Only time will tell, but I think the prudent path is one of caution.
The slackjaw gaze of true profanity, feels more like surrender than defeat - If culture is the curse of the thinking class
RUSH "Ceiling Unlimited" 2002
San Francisco, CA
Raw Sockets... Ok, all your points are pretty much valid, but the problem with your logic is that there have been free operating systems that have as much or more power available for download for years. All of the *nix products are able to do this very same thing and they are available for free right off the internet.
So, if your argument is that it was never available before, you are mistaken because of all of the *nix products mentioned above. If you think it is dangerous because it is on Windows, you are mistaken too because it isn't all that much easier to do this kind of programming in Windows than it is in Linux or some other *nix OS. The people who are now able to do it in Windows were always able to do it, so it doesn't change anything. Other people are simply not able to do it, so they don't matter anyway.
In short, this doesn't change much, if anything.
"Opportunities multiply as they are seized." - Sun Tzu
| |MJI1084$Geekie Teen TechiePremium
Ugh! I tell you.. I am already PO'ed at Microsoft for many reasons. If this Palladium thing happens, I will no longer be a PC user. The way I picture the Palladium, is that it's a middle man between you and your computer. It makes sure everything you do is yours and is legel. Do you have any idea what this will mean?! You open a program and it will make sure it's yours and crap... Do you have any idea how much CPU power that will take?! Windows XP is already a CPU and RAM hog as it is! If this does happen, I will no longer be a PC User. I will go to strictly Macintosh. Mac OS X is awesome, Becasue it can run Macintosh software and most Linux based software. You may say "Why not just stay with PC and use Linux?!" Well, that will not disable the Palladium, and microsoft may even set it up where it will cause your computer not to run it, plus just the idea of Microsoft having a chip in my computer! Who KNOWS what they can program into that thing! They could even have it setup to remote desktop and watch what you are doing at all times!! This idea really drives me insane, i will not let microsoft run my life..... ever!
"This is a Unix system. I know this." - Lex. (Jurassic Park)
Vive la resistance! If this happens, there will, no doubt, be a run on any old hardware and software. People will start setting up private LANs and WANs. Of course, this will probably be considered illegal as it would be deemed subversive or, perhaps, even terrorism.
Will there be an underground? What would it be good for? People using illicit emails? Perhaps with IPv6, any non-Palladium traffic will automatically be given lowest possible priority. Assuming, of course, that IPv6 isn't scrapped as others have suggested might happen.
So what happens when every common device is online? Will your refrigerator stop working if you refuse to upgrade to Windows XP3? What about the locks on your home - will you find yourself forcibly locked out/in if you badmouth the politicians that Microsoft owns? Are they going to lock you up for using (or even worse, creating!) GPL and Copyleft software?
| |rchandraStargate Universe fanPremium
big brother MS Oh, boy, this is great. I'm going to entrust my data to the same folks that wrote (and then patched, then patched, then patched again, then patched yet again, and then patched still again, then patched the patch...) Outlook (as only one of MANY bletcherous examples)? You will have to pry my cold, dead fingers off my PC before I will let these hooligans stick some bug-ridden, flea-bitten ASIC in my computer. I agree with the sentiments of going G4/OS X if the PC architecture somehow gets infected by these dolts.
Actually, think about this a moment. Anyone else remember a proposed ASIC called Clipper? Yep, I don't think that went too far either. To me, it's the same thing. They tell you it's to enhance the security (whatever the hell that is in this context) of your data and your communications. But if you think about it, it seems like one huge backdoor for the hugest spyware project...implemented in hardware no less! MS is such a predatory company, is there anyone else who thinks they might take this opportunity to popup/popunder/spam/(insert your most annoying advert activity here) you, no matter what (because they have their fingers in your most basic level, your hardware)?
Besides...we already have a more secure IP for anyone who chooses to adopt it: IPv6. What makes anyone think they're going to have any better success implementing Palladium than the ones who are trying to spread IPv6?
English is a difficult enough language to interpret correctly when its rules are followed, let alone when a writer chooses not to follow those rules.